General,  Parenting tips

Leaving home – you were always doing it

You were always leaving home of course. It is just that I did not realise it until the big departure happened on Monday. Now you have gone and are living overseas, so many memories from your childhood keep invading my mind. I cry a little but not too much. I left home at the same age. This is entirely normal. I was just a little not ready for it. I imagine that too is normal for us empty nesters.

Rolling back in time, I remember living opposite a primary school and thinking how lovely it would be to have my own child. I thought school runs would be fun. Deluded! As on so many parenting realities. It took us about 6 weeks to conceive and that was not quick enough for me! I sulked when a period turned up. Just the one and at the time I did not realise how blessed I was to be so very fertile.

You are my first child, your Dad’s first son and your grandma and granddad’s first grandchild. That made you special from the start but then you were you and that is really magical. You are handsome, super bright, sensitive, caring with the best of values and a deep desire to improve the world.

There were so many challenges I was not prepared for. There were concerns about your eye when you were born. The took a swab and I spent days worrying. You woke up and cried when I had my first fish and chips on bringing you home from the hospital – that is when I really worked out I was going to have to play second fiddle for at least a while.

You were always leaving home when I think about it now. I remember asking my parents to look after you about a month after you were born so I could go Christmas shopping. I spent the entire time in a shopping centre convinced they would not manage or you would die. I had arranged to start a new job about 7 weeks after your birth so all too quickly I was handing you over to my parents for them to look after you. You know that they did the most brilliant job. You are very much their legacy and they would be so very proud.

Then came your Montessori nursery. I remember you not wanting me to leave one day and having to make that trip that we all have to do at some point where staff are telling us to go, our child wants us to stay and our hearts break a little. Of course, you return at the end of the day and all is well. “He will be fine” they said. Expert mums who have let their offspring fly are telling me the same thing now. The worry does not change. My mum told me as they get older, the problems just become bigger.

Your Dad organised your entrance to your first school and I felt left out. I did the school runs usually. When you went to secondary school, it felt like child neglect to let you walk the 10 minutes it took for you to get to school. It feels like child neglect now that I have sent you to live with my brother overseas. I know he will do a fantastic job and has already proven that in the last 5 days but still I feel I should be doing more.

You know I wish I could have done better for you financially. I also wish mental health struggles of mine had not impacted on you. I guess all these experiences make us the people we are in the end. They keep telling me you will be fine.

You are like me in that you were not the child to go on many play dates or sleep overs. In fact I only recall you going away once without family members. That was a caravan holiday for a few days with a friend. I felt letting you go was child neglect. How does a parent decide who can be trusted? Sometimes we really do just follow our instincts, take a risk and hope for the best.

I have no idea how my parents managed to let me go to university and Cambridge at that. It was so outside their knowledge and experience. How generous of them to let me go. I feel fortunate that you are going to a safe family member as you leave me for what may be the final time.

You were so like me as you were leaving home. Not saying an awful lot. Putting on a brave face. Thanks for the hug which I had to ask for. I understand why. I held it together when my parents left me at college intending to go to my room and cry. Then Grandma came back with half a pork pie for my tea. At that point, I lost it. You left on a jet place. I don’t know when or if you will be back again. But I do know you will be absolutely fine and whether you are or not, I will be right her in your corner, a flawed mum but a loving one all the same.

Thanks so much for letting me by your Mum and here’s to a new chapter for the pair of us.

How did my readers act when they were leaving home?

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Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.


  • Jayne (@SMABLblog)

    Aw, what a beautiful post. I seem to have something in my eye! *reaches out for the tissues*
    I am sure your son will go on to do wonderful things on his journey and I bet he updates his mum every step of the way.
    You are a fabulous mum! Sending you the biggest hug Mrs xx

  • Lorna Holland

    Oh this is so lovely! Best of luck to both you and your son as you start the next chapter of your lives #thatfridaylinky

  • mackenzieglanville

    we are so hard on ourselves as mums, always feel like we could be, or should be doing more, but what I can hear and feel most fro this blog post is love and warmth and a huge dose of admiration for your son, he sounds amazing. I love that he wants to make this world a better place you clearly get full ticks for raising a great son! I am sending you hugs xoxo

  • endardoo

    So hard … but like you day, a new beginning for both of you. Easy for me to say, I will be facing this all too soon (about three years!) #GlobalBlogging

  • chickenruby

    cried for days, 5 times, when the last one left i felt a bereavement and it actually took me around 18 months to learn to adapt to me not being a full time mum anymore, I’m not sure if it would’ve been different if I’d lived nearby rather than 1000’s of miles and 12 hour flights away, maybe we’d see more of one another. #pocolo

  • Navigating Baby

    This is beautiful… You brought a tear. My kids are still so little I can’t imagine the day they leave, but of course it will come. It is our job at mother’s to prepare them for that day and so essentially to put ourselves out of a job. It sounds like you have done a great job of it and he will fly in his journey. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam

  • Stephanie 139a

    It’s so exciting for the one leaving though, starting their life full of the independence and confidence that you as his parent have taught and instilled in him. I am sure he will still need you, but perhaps just not the way he has up until now – take care – and thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

  • tiredbutcraftymummy

    What a lovely post. I do not look forward to the day my boys leave home. I know I’ll be so proud of them for whatever journey they will be taking but I know I’d miss them like mad! #StayClassyMama

  • Lydia C. Lee

    It’s a big moment, but it’s also what the whole parenting gig is about. Not how well they did in school, not what work they decided to do, not if they were breast or bottle fed, or at what age they walked – it’s all about getting them to the point when they’re ready to successfully leave home. So congratulations, Mama, you did good! #Stayclassymama

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